Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doing smart things for stupid reasons. The intermedia for doing things.

In A future post.... I showed the idea of ways of action that are best for achieving our goals. I like to name these actions "positive expectation dids". actions which result are expected to be good.

But people do not act just via these simple calculations. They may do the right thing with other constructs of reasoning. These constructs may guide towards desirable ends, but without actors being aware of the actual logic.

Exercising the eyes seems to me a very rational activity. relaxed and strong eyes are a great thing for me. Computer addict. Reader. and with sensitive eyes that pain at times.

I am doing these exercises next to a friend. He stares at me "you are out of your mind. Who is doing these shit?"

I wondered. This guy goes to the gym to inflate his muscles, action with less clear value. How in the world doe she find exercising the eyes strange?

OK. He has culturalized terms of what makes sense and what is normal.
Gym is manly etc. exercising the eyes is inexplicable.

But inflating one's muscles is not really stupid. It helps to get laid. It is rational. Similar to the reason of exercising the eyes.

But the guy does not think with ultimate utility in mind. He thinks with how things look like. Somehow, gym is great. Other strange things with stories attached are ........

Still, his gym time can be rational, even if he does not think clearly the calculations. Even if his line of reasoning has nothing to do with common sense.

Good action can come about via strange routes. This is how humans act and think. reasoning may be less common than we philosophers fantasize.

1) It does not always make sense to eradicate stories and customs that do not have inner logical validity. They maybe useful without being inherently true.
2) Seeing people acting correctly, does not show that they know what they are doing.
3) Beware the process.
4) More implications I do not have on my tongue now.

PS. example was a little blown out of proportions. The guy may have made some clever calculation about his gym time. He just may have not understood my strange things. Not understanding my logic, does not imply there was no logic in his actions.
My point is still valid at times. People do things that are good for them, for reasons and thoughts that are only indirectly related to the usefulness logic.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

how smart are you?

We tend to judge ourselves smart when being right on something.

The trouble is that issues judgments and opinions are very diverse.
Being right on one thing is a weak evidence for being right in another.

(that aside from the strong random variable, that can make you right by pure chance)

Be careful.

PS. Similarly for mistakes, we tend to over punish ourselves for mistakes. If yo can learn from a mistake, ok. But feeling entirely stupid for a single mistake is unwarranted.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ad-hoc but relevant

Some scientists and many regular folks believe that "ad-hoc" solutions are uninteresting.

In artistic terms they have a point. Art is subjective, and if someone beleives that green color is better than orange, who am I to argue?

In practice, waht coutns are results, not elegance.

A good freind of me is consulting me about his various personal and financial troubles. I am usually listening confusingly, trying to illuminate a point, suggesting what feels for me a straight-forward idea, or, at times, suggesting a trick out of my magic hat.

It happened that I helped this guy immensely. And with those simplistic half thought-out advice. Nothing spectacular. Just a compatible idea in the right time.

In many areas there is already lots of knowledge. What is needed is good application. Finding the right values for the parameters (i.e. how much anger is optimal when you are brain washed with ad-hoc theories of me, all aspects and long term dynamics factored in).

relevance is what counts. Nobody cares about how "smart" a theory is. We care about its usefulness. Ad-hoc tricking is frequently the best thing to do by far.

Humans care about what they care about, and allow elegance and fiction to take care on itself.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why does not everybody practice meditation?

Fact 1: Everybody I know who tried meditation has only praise for it. "It is good" "Great" "The best thing I did in my life" and so on.
My experience has been the same. It was so much calming and energizing that I wonder why I ever stopped after I started a few years ago.

Fact 2: Scientific experiments have shown one after the other that meditation improves mood. Decreases anxiety and depression and various other good outcomes.
There were significant effects from meditation.

Puzzle: why only 1% of the population (in Israel) practices meditation?

It sounds one of the greatest irrationalities in life management. There is almost no better deal I know of.

Yet people ignore it largely. Probably showing that humans management of life is far from what reason would expect.

Acting out of weakness

We do things because we are weak.

We sometimes feel that if we would have just more energy and will power we would have done X and Y and Z. This and this and this would have been different.

But many times what we call weakness is in a sense a wisdom of our gut feeling. We may lose because of weakness, but we win many times out of weakness. Being strong willed may mean suffering too much for useless or unrealistic goals. At times, the goals are not worth the trouble. Our smartness says it is. But weakness of will, saves us from being zealous toward the unworthy of effort.

Our "well thought out goals" are many times grudging efforts to acheive goals that are coming not so much from wisdom but form other people's interests, all kinds of psychological constructs and so on. Failing may mean avoiding throwing energy away. [1]

Considering weakness when managing life
Realistically, it does not always matter what would have happened if we would have acted with stronger will. Our weakness and and idiosyncraticas, are there to be taken into consideration.
True, we have some power to change at times. But many times we do not. Even if we can in theory, we may be the kind of person who usually does not exercise such a strong will power.
For regular management of life, it may be wise to take our usual will power into account.
Generally, maanging life out of theoretical possibilities or of our teachers of strong people is not smart. We manage life by our own means and tendencies.

[1] Randolph Nesse claims here that the evolutionary source of depression is either to make us able to sumbit to those stronger of us, or to abandom unfeasible goals.

PS. scholars have shown that having generally more self-regulation ability helps in various domains of life. Self-regulation capacity can actually be increases by exercising in self-regulation. But it does not always work.
These scholastic works, makes me feeling strange about this post. I certainly have my points. But do I give them too much emphasis because I want to believe in these aspects of being weak?